Hardly ... without and Hardly ... when

Dear teachers,

1. Hardly a day goes by when I didn't think about her.

2. Hardly a day goes by without my thinking about her.

Sentence 2 is understood without any difficulty but sentence 1 has something usual to me. Is it the structure "Hardly ....when''? Does it need inversion?

Thanks for your concern.

Original Post
cocoricot posted:

1. Hardly a day goes by when I didn't think about her.

2. Hardly a day goes by without my thinking about her.

Sentence 2 is understood without any difficulty but sentence 1 has something usual to me.

Hello, Coco,

Sentence (2) is fine, but you are right that there is something wrong about (1). What is wrong is that there is a conflict in the tenses. "Goes" (present tense) should be "went" (past tense). You can say:

  • Hardly a day went by that I didn't think about her.
  • Hardly a day goes by that I don't think about her.
cocoricot posted:

Can you tell me what "that'' means?

Hardly a day went by that I didn't think about her.

Hello, Coco,

"That" doesn't mean anything. It is simply a complementizer introducing the relative clause "that I didn't think about her," which modifies "day," even though it is separated from that noun by the verb phrase "went by."

If you want to use a relative adverb instead of that, "when" is fine. I just think the sentence sounds a little bit better with "that." Notice that the sentence relates to a question such as the one below, in which you have four options:

  • Were there any days that you didn't think about her?
  • Were there any days when you didn't think about her?
  • Were there any days on which you didn't think about her?
  • Were there any days you didn't think about her?

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